and David Brown
and David Brown
Foxboro — Just because he's the newest kid on the block doesn't mean a vet — or the head coach for that matter — is going to go easy on him.
About an hour into Saturday's afternoon practice, Patriots wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, a veteran of five NFL campaigns, made first-round pick Brandon Meriweather look silly. Gaffney caught a short pass while going to his left and simply left Meriweather, who was matched up with him at corner and not at safety, in the dust after forcing him to bite on a shoulder fake.
Welcome to the pros, rook.
Late Friday night, Meriweather came to terms on a five-year contract with a base salary of $8.75 million, a deal that could reach $11.6 million with performance incentives, according to his agent, Joby Branion.
Meriweather was in Foxboro past midnight on Friday signing the contract, and Branion said he called his client at 5 a.m. to wake him for a gauntlet of conditioning tests early Saturday morning. The rookie had already been up for a half hour.
"I dropped him off at about quarter to one," Branion said. "He got at most four hours of sleep."
After the early conditioning drills, Meriweather was in uniform (now wearing number 31, and not 38 like he did at mini-camp) for Saturday afternoon's practice.
Asked for his first impressions about his top pick in this year's draft, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick didn't toss any bouquets.
"He has a long way to go," Belichick said.
Then again, it's still July. It's highly unlikely, though, that the rookie defender from Miami would have left a positive impression after his first practice under perhaps one of the most detail-oriented and demanding head coaches in the NFL.
Despite his early missteps, Meriweather certainly has a promising future whether it be at cornerback or at safety. With no sign of holdout corner Asante Samuel and fellow defensive back Chad Scott injuring his knee in the Friday afternoon session, it's possible Meriweather could be needed at both positions.
"We'll work him at both spots," Belichick said. "He's played a lot of different positions in college. He's played the nickel position, the corner position, the safety position. We'll use him in some different spots and see how it goes. People on our team are going to have to have some versatility and play different spots anyway, so he falls into that category."
Not that he wants to challenge Evander Holyfield when it comes to making comebacks, linebacker Chad Brown said he's happy to be back with the Patriots. Brown, 37, is in his 15th NFL season after recently signing his third contract with the team. Brown made his debut with the Patriots in 2005 after Tedy Bruschi took time off after suffering a stroke and Ted Johnson abruptly retired.
After beginning the gradual slide toward retirement this offseason, Brown, who owns a company that sells reptiles, received a few calls in late-spring about playing again. According to Brown, that's what put the wheels into motion and when he began thinking about playing in '07.
"I can still say no at any point, but in order to say yes, I have to prepare myself to be physically ready," said Brown. "I knew the answer was most likely going to be yes the day before I got on the plane (to come to New England). There were some mornings (leading up to making the final decision) where I'd ask myself, 'Do I really want to go workout?'"
There was no announcement about the extent of the injury that cornerback Chad Scott likely suffered during Friday's second practice. Scott, who was defending wide receiver C.J. Jones at the time, was unable to leave the field under his own power. Belichick said Saturday that Scott was "day-to-day.—¦ Running back Laurence Maroney and linebackers Junior Seau and Eric Alexander wore red no-contact jerseys for the second consecutive day. Even though the jerseys signify that they should have limited contact, each has made plays at various times during these initial practices. Maroney, who's recovering from shoulder surgery, has looked especially fresh. "¦ Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops and his staff were guests of Belichick's at Saturday's lone practice. ...
Thanks to a concert, the practice facility's stand were empty (then again, that didn't preclude concert goers from gawking from inside the stadium). The facility was host to a country music festival the featured headliner Kenny Chesney, who was on the field and alongside Belichick before the start of practice. "¦ The distinction used to belong to assistant head coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Now it's quarterback Matt Guiterrez who's the been the last man to leave the practice field.
Contact Dan Pires at email@example.com